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Sunday’s Red Sox-Royals matchups: Jon Lester vs. Yordano Ventura 07.20.14 at 8:05 am ET
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The Red Sox will close out a three-game series against the Royals on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park, sending Jon Lester to the hill against Yordano Ventura.

Lester (9-7, 2.65 ERA) has been nearly unhittable for over a month, allowing just one earned run over his last six starts, posting a 1.01 ERA in the process. The 6-foot-4 lefty, who has posted career-highs in ERA (2.65) and WHIP (1.14) this season, continued his torrid pace in his last start July 10 against the White Sox.

Against Chicago, Lester allowed just one earned run over seven innings with zero walks and 12 strikeouts. Lester looked dominant from the get-go, striking out two batters in each of the first five innings of the game.

“I had pretty good command of my fastball to both sides, but I think the biggest pitch was my curveball,” Lester said after the game. “I was dropping it in for strikes and bouncing it, too. When I’m able to do that, I can get some separation from my fastball and cutter. It widens the plate for me. I was able to exploit that today.”

Lester was solid in his last outing against Kansas City on Aug. 8, 2013, allowing three runs (one earned) in seven innings of work in what as an eventual 5-1 Royals victory. In 10 career starts against the Royals, Lester is 6-3 with a 1.60 ERA — which stands as the lowest ERA from an active pitcher with at least seven starts against Kansas City.

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Read More: Jon Lester, Red Sox, royals, Yordano Ventura
Source: Phillies currently not looking to deal Cole Hamels 07.18.14 at 1:16 am ET
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According a major league source, the Phillies are currently showing no inclination to trade Cole Hamels.

Hamels has been the subject of rumors involving the Red Sox recently, with the Boston Globe suggesting the Red Sox might be viewing the lefty as a top-of-the-rotation replacement for Jon Lester. The 30 year old will be owed $90 million over the next four years, with a team option for 2019 worth $20 million.

It is believed that while the Red Sox had checked in on Hamels availability earlier in the season, there hasn’t been any recent discussions between the Sox and Phillies regarding the starter.

Hamels has made 16 starts this season, going 3-5 with a 2.93 ERA. He has made at least 31 starts in each of his last six seasons, totaling a 3.30 ERA during that span.

The Phillies are currently 10 games out of first-place in the National League East  and the wild card race, heading into the second half at 42-53.

Read More: Cole Hamels, Jon Lester, Phillies, Red Sox
Ben Cherington on D&C: ‘I didn’t do a good enough job building a complete offense’ 07.17.14 at 10:04 am ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss the contract negotiations between the team and Jon Lester as well as the state of the club. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The 2014 season has been a far cry from last year’s championship run, as Boston sits in last place in the American League East with a 43-52 record. When it comes to finding a root cause for the Red Sox‘ struggles, Cherington took responsibility for not adding enough firepower to the lineup. The Red Sox are last in the AL in runs scored (367).

“I think obviously our biggest issue, at least up until very recently, has been offensive production,” Cherington said. “I think our pitching has been good enough to win, we just haven’t produced offensively. As I look at that, I guess what I would say is that I didn’t do a good enough job building a complete offense. … It certainly wasn’t our intent. We thought we would have that, we thought we had reason to believe that we could have that going into the year, but the reality is that we have not through a big chunk of the first part of the season.

“That has hamstrung our ability to win games. … In that aggregate, I didn’t do a good enough job building a deep enough offense, at least to start the season. We’re trying to remedy that, in ways that make sense. It takes time. That’s been the flaw of the team more than anything else, so I take responsibility for that.”

While contract talks between Lester and the Red Sox has been a hot topic over the last month, Cherington said that there have not been many new developments in the negotiations.

“I think a lot has been written about this,” Cherington acknowledged. “I think what I take out of this, more than anything, is what’s said if you ask John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, myself, if you ask Jon Lester … I think what all of those people would say is that there’s a strong relationship here that goes back 12 years and that strong relationship will allow for a continued dialogue.”

Cherington continued: “I think that Jon feels like right now is the time to focus on the field and focus on the team. … There’s been a lot of talk, I don’t think anything coming from any of those people I just mentioned. … It’s out there and I just don’t don’t put much stock in it and it’s because none of it’s coming from the people that are actually a part of the conversation.”

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Read More: ben cherington, Jon Lester, Red Sox,
Buster Olney on MFB: ‘I feel bad that everyone involved has to pretend that this [All-Star Game] matters’ 07.16.14 at 2:31 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the controversy surrounding Adam Wainwright and Derek Jeter during the All-Star Game, Jon Lester‘€™s contract negotiations with the Red Sox and the season outlook for Boston. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

After surrendering a leadoff double to Jeter to open the All-Star Game, Wainwright admitted after his outing that he gave Jeter, who was playing in his final Midsummer Classic, a few “pitches he could handle.”

Wainwright later backtracked from his comments, adding that it was supposed to be a joke. Olney leaned in favor of Wainwright, as many pitchers have done the same thing before in an effort to honor a retiring player on the national stage.

“I kind of felt bad for [Wainwright],” Olney said. “First off, Adam Wainwright is one of the really great people in the sport. He’s honest and he’s earnest and to what he originally said, he just spoke the truth. What he originally said that he did, that’s been going on for years and years and years. … It’s a pitcher’s way of honoring a hitter.”

Olney added: “I feel bad that everyone involved has to pretend that this game matters, which is really the basic problem in this thing, where Adam can’t really come out and say, ‘Hey, it’s an exhibition game and I wanted to give Derek an opportunity to enjoy the stage,’ and instead everyone has to do all this backtracking and pretend that something happened than what actually did happen.”

While Jeter received a large amount of praise during the All-Star Game, there was no mention or ceremony for either Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn or long-time manager Don Zimmer, both of whom passed away this year. Olney said that he was shocked that there was no dedication for Gwynn during the game.

“I was surprised,” Olney said. “It’s certainly, in the case of Tony, because he’s a Hall of Famer, we see it at the Oscars every year, where they roll the videotape of all those who’ve been lost the year before in the film industry, and I was surprised at the very least that that wasn’t done on behalf of Tony.”

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Read More: Adam Wainwright, buster olney, Derek Jeter, Jon Lester
Jon Lester relishes All-Star inning of work, opportunity to play with Derek Jeter; Koji Uehara fans only batter he faces 07.15.14 at 9:05 pm ET
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MINNEAPOLIS — Jon Lester‘s third All-Star Game consisted of one inning of work, with the Red Sox lefty pitching the second inning for the host American League.

Lester allowed two runs on three hits over his only frame.

The lefty retired the first batter he faced, Giancarlo Stanton, on a pop-up to second base. But he then surrendered a single to Aramis Ramirez before giving up back-to-back doubles to Chase Utley and Jonathan Lucroy.

Lester would come back to strand Lucroy at second, getting Carlos Gomez to pop out to the catcher before inducing an inning-ending fly ball to center off the bat of Andrew McCutchen.

“Obviously you’re coming in here, you’re facing the best players in the world and just trying to get outs. You’re so used to going through the scouting reports and advance meetings and this and that,” said Lester. “All of a sudden, you get out there and you’re throwing to a guy you just met a day ago. It’s like, ‘Hey, all right, let’s see what we can do.’ Made a couple mistakes and obviously they’re here for a reason, put some good swings on balls. Luckily got out of there still with the lead. That was the main thing. Fun. Had a good time.

“Any time you get to run out on this field with these guys, it humbles you. It makes you just enjoy this even more,” Lester added. “Getting to be a part of this, getting to be in the clubhouse with these guys, you just walk around the room, you’ve got future Hall of Famers all over the place. It’s an awesome experience that I definitely always remember. I always remember the ones I’ve been to and get to be around these guys, cherish the talks and the conversations that we’ve had in the dugout or on the field. You get to learn a lot from these guys.”

The Sox starter threw 22 pitches, 17 of which were for strikes.

Despite being named to the All-Star team two other occasions, this was the first game action for Lester.

To listen to Lester sum up his experience at the All-Star Game, listen to the Bradfo Show podcast (also featuring Stanton) by clicking here.

The other Red Sox representative, Koji Uehara, retired the only batter he faced, Devin Mesoraco, on a strikeout for the final out of the top of the sixth.

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Read More: Derek Jeter, Jon Lester, Koji Uehara,
Nomar Garciaparra on MFB: ‘I don’t know how [Jon Lester's contract situation] is going to fold out’ at 2:22 pm ET
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Former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra joined Middays with MFB Tuesday to discuss a number of baseball topics, including the All-Star Game and Jon Lester‘s contract situation. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The inability of Lester and the Red Sox to come to an agreement on a new contract continues to be one of the biggest stories of the Red Sox’ 2014 season.

“I don’t know how it’s going to fold out. Who knows? I don’t know what’s going on in the sense where one day it’s good, one day it’s bad,” Garciaparra said. “Anything can happen from one day to the next.”

Garciaparra added: “I don’t know what’s going on or what’s going on behind closed doors. I know firsthand it’s not always the same. What’s being said and what’s behind closed doors are two different things. That’s stuff to kind of calculate as well.”

Tuesday night will be Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter‘s final All-Star Game before retiring at the end of the season. Like Mariano Rivera, Jeter’s reception is expected to be significant.

“I think it’s one when you send him out there he’ll start, he’ll get an ovation,” Garciaparra said. “I think at some point too, very similar to what Joe Torre did when the All-Star Game was held [at Fenway Park] in 1999 when Jeter took my place at shortstop, was, ‘Go out there, I’ll call you in, get the ovation.’

“I think that could be a moment as well, especially then, because I’m sure it’ll be a long moment too, getting his ovation coming off, that people will take their time and the pitcher has time to stop, wait and get going again. I think that would be pretty cool as well.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Derek Jeter, Jon Lester, Nomar Garciaparra,
As All-Star Game arrives, no movement on Jon Lester’s contract talks 07.14.14 at 8:00 pm ET
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MINNEAPOLIS — Jon Lester said all the right things Monday at the media availability for the American League All-Stars, yet said little that was revelatory. But for a good reason.

There is nothing new going on when it comes to the pitcher’s contract talks.

According to multiple major league sources, the situation remains the same as it has for the entirety of the 2014 season to date: Lester still hasn’t received an offer from the Red Sox that would suggest a short negotiating window, preventing further talks regarding an extension.

Despite recent efforts by the Red Sox to re-engage after initially shutting down negotiations at the end of spring training, Lester made it a point that he would only talk if the offer could lead to a quick resolution. The impetus for such an approach was to limit the in-season disturbances.

“I think the biggest thing for me is just the distraction side of it. I can handle it. I’m not worried about me, I’m worried about my team and I’m worried about my guys,” Lester said. “The last thing I want them having to answer after a game … like we had to in New York. We just took a series from the Yankees and everybody is happy, having a good time and we have a report that comes out and I have guys getting asked about that as opposed to the game we just won. I’ve sat down and talked to Ben [Cherington] about that and expressed that to Ben and they understand. Like I said before, I’ve expressed it to them, this is where I want to stay. Regardless of whether we do it tomorrow or we wait until the end of the season, this is where I want to be. Hopefully when we get to the end of the season we can figure out something and get it done.”

During Monday’s session, an inquiry was made to Lester regarding team president Larry Lucchino‘s comments to The Boston Globe suggesting the Red Sox started low in their initial offer of four years, $70 million.

“I still think they want me here. I think obviously my representation has had a lot of talks with them and Ben and Larry. I think that feeling is still mutual on both sides, I would hope,” Lester said. “I think where that started in spring training and then to Opening Day kind of sneaking up on us, just kind of the way that it happened.”

When asked about the early negotiating approach by the team, Lester added, “I don’t know if ‘exploited’ is the right word, but they’re businessmen. They didn’t get to own the Boston Red Sox by being stupid with money. Like I said, I don’t think ‘exploited’ is the right word. I think they just took a shot, and like you said, Larry and Ben and the collective group put that offer out there and that’s what they wanted to start at. We had plenty of talks after that as far as moving money and moving years, moving money, but never got to another offer, so like I said, Opening Day kind of came in and went and put it on the back burner for a while.”

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